Thomas Chatterton Williams holds a Bachelors degree in philosophy from Georgetown University and a Masters degree from the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program at New York University. In 2007, he wrote an op-ed piece entitled Yes, Blame Hip-Hop for the Washington Post which generated a record-breaking number of comments. He writes for the literary magazine n+1 and currently lives in Brooklyn.
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Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in New Jersey, but my parents are from out west. They moved the family to New Jersey when my father, a sociologist by training, took a job in Newark running anti-poverty programs for the Episcopal Archdiocese. My father Pappy who is black, is from Galveston and Fort Worth, Texas. My mother, who is white, is from San Diego. They both lament the decision to move east.
I spent the first year of my life in Newark, but was raised in Fanwood, a solidly middle-class suburb with a white side and a black side. We lived on the white side of town mainly because Pappy, who had grown up under formal segregation, refused out of principle to ever again let anyone tell him where to live.
I studied philosophy at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., and more recently, attended graduate school at New York University.
Why did you write this book?
I started writing this book out of a searing sense of frustration. It was 2007, hip-hop had sunk to new depths with outrageously ignorant artists like the Dip Set and Soulja Boy dominating the culture and airwaves, and something inside me just snapped. I was in grad school at NYU and one of my teachers gave the class the assignment ...
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